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Field Guides Tour Report
Costa Rica: Birding the Edges Part I, the Deep South 2020
Jan 4, 2020 to Jan 13, 2020
Cory Gregory & Vernon Campos

On the first part of this two-part tour, we explored the less-visited southern portions of Costa Rica. Even though we sampled just a mere portion of what this country has to offer, we tallied nearly 30 species of hummingbirds! One of the species we got to enjoy time and time again was the aptly-named Charming Hummingbird. This species, photographed here by guide Cory Gregory, was common at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

Although January can be a dreary, wintery month up north, we found ourselves exploring the lush tropical country of Costa Rica; a perfect winter getaway! Although a small country, this Central American nation hosts a wealth of fascinating habitats due to its volcanoes, mountain ranges, lowlands, and all the elevations in between. We sampled these habitats on Part 1, which took us up into the breezy Talamanca highlands, down into the mid-elevation cloud forests, and finally down into the lowlands around the Panama border (we could even SEE Panama!). Even the weather performed well on Part 1 and we enjoyed clear skies for much of it.

We started by climbing up into the Talamanca highlands where, even at our lunch table, we could see specialties like Volcano Hummingbird, Lesser Violetear, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, and others. We even climbed up to 11,000+ feet where we tracked down the range-restricted Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren, two awesome specialties! Talari Mountain Lodge, our home for the first couple nights, was a great home-base where even the dining hall balcony was a birding hotspot. Between the variety of tanagers, euphonias, honeycreepers, parrots, aracaris, doves, kinkajou (at night), and hummingbirds, we always had something to enjoy there.

Winding our way closer to the Panama border, we stayed at Wilson Botanical Gardens for a couple nights. With beautiful rooms, on-site birding, and some great trails, this was a fun spot to call home for a bit. Nearby we tallied Costa Rican Brushfinch (woohoo!), drop-dead gorgeous tanagers at the feeders, swarms of Swallow-tailed Kites swirling overhead, a wealth of interesting parrots, and even the newly-split Chiriqui Foliage-gleaner.

Our next home, down in the lowlands, was at the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. With hermits feeding within reach from our dining table, curassows roaming the grounds, a wealth of tanagers, flycatchers, and woodcreepers above our rooms, and even the Costa Rican endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager on the grounds, it's hard to ask for more! During our stay there, we ventured to the coast and spent a morning birding along the famed Rio Rincón where "the party don't stop", sometimes literally! It was there, among the 75+ species, that we enjoyed Scarlet Macaws slowly flapping past, a variety of trogons including Baird's, and our target, the endangered Yellow-billed Cotinga. The nearby road between La Gamba and Golfito also produced a number of fascinating species. Whether it was the Ornate Hawk-Eagle overhead, the sneaky Black-faced Antthrush, or the Striped Woodhaunter that showed so nicely, we all had plenty to enjoy!

A huge shoutout to our local guide, Vernon, whose knowledge and expertise made the trip a smashing success. Thanks also to William, who was a great, safe driver and kept the bus in tip-top condition day after day. Thanks also to Caroline who, from Austin, was able to work all the logistics out perfectly. Last but not least, thanks to you all for making this a fun bunch of birders! I know Vernon and I really enjoyed your company and we hope to see you again on another Field Guides trip someday.


-- Cory

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)
GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major) – Although we heard them several times, this chunky species was actually seen near the observation tower at Wilson Botanical Gardens.
LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) – A tough species to see, this small tinamou was heard several times but always remained out of view. [*]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – A couple of large swarms of these tree-loving ducks were out in the flats in Coto 47 on our 7th day.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) – This was the most common wintering duck we saw in the wet areas of Coto 47 during our afternoon visit.
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) – This uncommon wintering dabbling duck was spotted at Coto 47. This isn't a species we often see on this tour.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps) – These noisy, gregarious birds kept us company during our time at Talari Mountain Lodge and Wilson Botanical Gardens.
CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens) – Much larger than the chachalacas, these big guys were actually quite arboreal, staying up in trees most of the time.
GREAT CURASSOW (Crax rubra) – It was hard to miss these majestic giants waltzing around the grounds at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge! What an amazing bird!
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common in urban areas. [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – This chunky pigeon was fairly common once we descended into the lowlands around Ciudad Neily and Esquinas.

These giants, the Great Curassows, roamed the grounds of our lodge in the Pacific lowlands. The female, which arguably is more distinctive than the all-black male, is very nicely patterned on the head and neck. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – One of these fascinating pigeons remained perched in a barren tree for us to scope while some nearby Fiery-billed Aracaris kept us entertained.
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – Common in the Central Valley area and around the Hotel Bougainvillea.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – A couple of these flew overhead while we were birding in the highlands near Paraiso Quetzal on our first day. However, that would remain our only sighting.
SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) – Although fairly plain in plumage, these pigeons are quite vocal and we got to hear them singing several times around Wilson Botanical Gardens and again around Esquinas.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – Common around the Hotel Bougainvillea.
PLAIN-BREASTED GROUND DOVE (Columbina minuta) – Vernon spotted one of these along the road south of Ciudad Neily and we all got scope views of it.
RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – A common but bright species at all mid-low elevation sites we visited.
BLUE GROUND DOVE (Claravis pretiosa) – This is an interesting-colored Ground Dove! We got good looks a couple of times including near Coto 47 in the lowlands.
RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana) – A very sneaky, ground-loving species. A couple folks saw one strolling on the ground way back in the forest at Los Cusingos.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Although this ground-loving species was common throughout our trip, it's rather shy and would often stay out of view. Sometimes we'd see them flush but only be able to see the white tips to some of the tail feathers as they flew away.

Another giant of the Costa Rican avifauna is the often-arboreal Crested Guan. We enjoyed these at a couple of our lodges on Part 1. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassinii) – A close relative of the previous species, this shadow-loving ground bird was seen most frequently by the compost at Talari.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – Common in the Central Valley and around the Hotel Bougainvillea.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – This all-black member of the cuckoo family was the only common ani species on Part 1. We'd spy them around grassy fields and bushy edges.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – On our final day, during the drive back to the Central Valley, an ani was seen by a few people north of where the two anis separate. The anis there would be Groove-billed instead.
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) – A cuckoo of open country, this fascinating species was seen a couple of times including along the entrance road to Esquinas. We all got great scope views of it as it raised its crest.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – This big squirrel always looks rather playful with that long tail that it whips around. We were lucky to see several of these including at Wilson Botanical Gardens, Casa Botania B&B, and Esquinas.
MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor) – This was a surprise! One of these was seen nicely along the road south of Ciudad Neily. Thankfully it posed in the tree long enough for all of us to get good looks.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – This nightbird was seen a couple of times along the driveway at Talari Mountain Lodge. We also had predawn looks from Wilson Botanical Gardens and Esquinas.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus) – Hearing them singing right outside our rooms at Talari was pretty cool! We eventually saw one on a dayroost at Los Cusingos as well.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – An impressive flock of 80+ of these rocketed past the dining hall balcony at Wilson Botanical Gardens.

When compared to the chilly winter season farther north, who could turn down birding in the lush forests of Costa Rica instead?! Here is some of the group enjoying a Striped Woodhaunter in the Pacific lowlands. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – This small species was seen foraging the skies above us as we walked around the Hotel Bougainvillea grounds.
COSTA RICAN SWIFT (Chaetura fumosa) – High overhead, this small swift was seen just a couple of times from Esquinas Rainforest Lodge where they're the only Chaetura swift present.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – Not a common hummer for us, only one of these was seen along the entrance road to Esquinas.
BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri) – The road between La Gamba and Golfito has been a reliable spot to find this shadow-loving hummingbird. We had several looks as they zoomed around us.
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – Our best looks at this long-billed hummingbird came from Bosque Del Tolomuco and Wilson Botanical Garden.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris) – This long-billed (and long-tailed!) species was fairly common at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge where they'd feed on the flowers right next to the dining hall.
STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis) – Like the previous species, this tiny hummer was seen at Esquinas, often when we were sitting at the dining hall tables.
LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus) – We found ourselves at the right elevation for this species only during our visit to Paraiso Quetzal. This highland specialty used to be part of the Green Violetear species before it was split.
PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti) – Traditionally not a species that visits feeders. We found one briefly at Esquinas where it zoomed between flowering trees.
VERAGUAN MANGO (Anthracothorax veraguensis) – Wow, who can forget watching this rare species at a nest in downtown Ciudad Neily?! A species that often likes to build its nests on power-lines, this particular female had chosen a web of power-lines over one of the busiest intersections in town.

The largest hummingbird in Costa Rica is this bad boy right here, the flashy Violet Sabrewing. These iridescent hummers flashed by like missiles! Photo by particpants David and Judy Smith.

WHITE-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis adorabilis) – We had great luck with this tiny, uncommon hummingbird at Bosque Del Tolomuco! A tricky hummingbird sometimes, they rarely are so up-close and personal. We saw another at Wilson Botanical Gardens one day as well. This species is endemic to Costa Rica/Panama.
GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula) – A few of these large hummers came to the corner feeder at Bosque Del Tolomuco during our visit. Disjunct populations of this species range south into Ecuador.
TALAMANCA HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes spectabilis) – Our only sightings came from Paraiso Quetzal where this large species duked it out with violetears and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds. Until recently, this was considered part of the Magnificent Hummingbird complex before it was split out.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – We got lucky and found one of these large hummers perched high up above the dining hall at Talari Mountain Lodge.
FIERY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Panterpe insignis) – This highland specialty was seen only on our 2nd day when we ventured to Paraiso Quetzal. When the light catches the throat just right, it's quite a spectacular bird!
WHITE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis castaneoventris) – This highland species is restricted to southern Costa Rica and northern Panama. We had excellent views of this key species at Bosque Del Tolomuco!
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – This wintering species was seen at the Hotel Bougainvillea on our first outing.
VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula) – Of all the Selasphorus hummers on our trip, this one prefers the highest elevations. In fact, this was one of the common hummingbird species all the way up at the Paraiso Quetzal feeders.
SCINTILLANT HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus scintilla) – Bosque Del Tolomuco falls in the elevational range of this Selasphorus hummer and we had repeated looks there. However, once we left that location, we weren't back in range for the rest of Part 1.
GARDEN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon assimilis) – Success! It took a couple of tries but we eventually caught up with this specialty at Casa Botania B&B near Wilson Botanical Gardens. This species is only found in Costa Rica and Panama.

From the sabrewings on the large side of the spectrum, down to the tiny hummers we saw, this female White-crested Coquette was a tiny (but important!) addition to our triplist from Bosque Del Tolomuco. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

SCALY-BREASTED HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeochroa cuvierii) – A common hummingbird throughout our time at Talari Mountain Lodge and Wilson Botanical Gardens. In fact, the song of this species was one of the most common sounds from the balcony at Talari.
VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus) – This big, flashy, and gorgeous hummingbird was reliable at Bosque Del Tolomuco during our visit.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica) – Although a subdued female with muted colors, one of these surfaced for us a couple of times including at the Rio Rincón bridge area.
STRIPE-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa eximia) – Wow, what a stunning view at Bosque Del Tolomuco! It sat still and we managed lots of scope views and amazing photos.
WHITE-TAILED EMERALD (Elvira chionura) – This was another species we tallied at Bosque Del Tolomuco. Without the flashes in the tail, this small species looks essentially all green.
CHARMING HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia decora) – This was a daily species for us once we reached Wilson Botanical Gardens. The views couldn't have been better at Esquinas where one liked to sit point-blank near the dining hall.
MANGROVE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia boucardi) – This Costa Rican endemic was seen beautifully in the mangroves near Rio Rincón. It wasn't shy either! [E]
SNOWY-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia edward) – We snagged our first at Bosque Del Tolomuco and went on to see them again at Talari Mountain Lodge and Casa Botania B&B. This species is only found in Costa Rica and Panama.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – Abundant and seen daily.
SAPPHIRE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga coeruleogularis) – Within Costa Rica, this is a very rare species restricted to a small area around Ciudad Neily. We had some luck along the road south of town.

The only day we enjoyed the highland specialty hummingbirds was on our first day in the Talamanca highlands. There, we enjoyed Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, Volcano Hummingbirds, and of course, lots of Lesser Violetears. The violetears, formerly part of the Green Violetear complex, showed very nicely! Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
PAINT-BILLED CRAKE (Mustelirallus erythrops) – Even among rails, this species is known for being secretive and poorly understood. It was incredible to get to witness this species near Ciudad Neily!
GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Heard and seen a few times including at Talari Mountain Lodge, Wilson Botanical Gardens, and the stream south of Ciudad Neily.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) – There was a distant coot scoped in Coto 47 during our visit there. However, it was hardly a stop-the-presses moment.
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica) – We enjoyed several nice scope looks at this colorful species in the fields along the entrance road to Esquinas.
WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (Laterallus albigularis) – The churring song of this common rail was heard several times but they never came out into view for us. [*]
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Coto 47 had a number of these tall, lanky shorebirds.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – The fields near Esquinas proved to be pretty reliable for this attractive species. The range of these has expanded northward out of Panama and they can now be found many places in Costa Rica.
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – Although familiar to many of us from the states, this noisy plover isn't actually a species we expect to see on this tour. We saw several in a field next to a store we stopped at.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – Common in wet fields near Esquinas and Coto 47.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – We tallied this curlew on our final day during a lunch stop in Dominical.

Bosque Del Tolomuco is always a fantastic spot for hummingbirds and our visit was no exception. We really cleaned up there and even got to watch this tame Stripe-tailed Hummingbird sit on its favorite perch for minutes on end. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Although they were rather distant, this tiny shorebird was present at Coto 47 in good numbers. We saw a few more from the Rio Rincón bridge as well where we could see the yellow legs.
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) – A few of these were scoped out in Coto 47 from the Las Pangas area. Rather uncommon here, it's not a species we typically expect to see.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – This tail-bobbing shorebird was fairly common in streams and wet areas throughout.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – This sturdy migrant shorebird was seen twice; first at Coto 47 and then again from the Rio Rincón bridge.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – At least one of these dainty shorebirds was scoped at Coto 47 alongside the many ducks and shorebirds. Turns out, that would be our only sighting of this migrant.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – Common along the shoreline on our final day. For example, we saw them in Dominical during our lunch stop.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – This is another common coastal species we added in Dominical on our final day.
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – At least one or two of these were seen in Dominical on our final day. The bill is mostly dark with a yellow tip.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – This black-and-white giant was seen both in flight around Ciudad Neily and standing in the fields near Esquinas.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – This coastal, breeze-loving seabird was seen gliding effortlessly overhead during our final day.

From the highlands at 11,000 ft, all the way down to the Pacific lowlands, hummers were always there to keep us company. At a special spot in the lowland mangroves, we encountered this Costa Rican endemic, the Mangrove Hummingbird. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – It wasn't until our drive back north on our final day that we managed to track one of these down in a coastal wetland.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – This cormorant, the only one we expect to see in Costa Rica, was fairly common in large bodies of water or large rivers we crossed over.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – We added this huge coastal species on our final day as we drove north back towards San Jose.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – We were scoping at Coto 47 when one of these cool herons appeared... above us! We all had quite an eyeful as it clambered around in the tree right next to us.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – This big, classic heron was seen a few times in wet areas towards the end of our tour.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – This big, white heron was fairly common in the lowlands.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Like the previous species, this egret was seen daily once we drove down into the lowlands around Esquinas.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Fairly common around Esquinas, Coto 47, and the Rio Rincón bridge area.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – A bit more local than the other herons, this slender wader was seen from the Rio Rincón bridge.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Our most common heron on the trip, these were often seen in fields alongside cattle, as expected.

Did I mention that we got good looks at coquettes?! Participants David and Judy Smith captured this image of the female White-crested Coquette in flight.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – A quiet heron, these were seen sneaking around the ponds at Esquinas several times.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Tallied towards the end of our tour, this red-billed species was spied near Esquinas, at the Rio Rincón bridge, and Dominical.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Our only sighting of this gorgeous species came from the Rio Rincón bridge where a couple were feeding in the shallows.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Common, tallied nearly every day.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Abundant, seen every day of the trip.
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – We had a couple of brief sightings of this marsh-loving vulture in the lowlands near Ciudad Neily.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – We picked up this familiar fish-eating raptor during lunch in Dominical on our final day.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii) – Such a graceful little raptor! We encountered these twice, including one south of Ciudad Neily.
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – We were driving south on Day 2 when we spotted one of these gorgeous raptors hovering over a field. Turns out, that would be our only sighting of the tour.
GRAY-HEADED KITE (Leptodon cayanensis) – We were coming into Esquinas when we flushed a raptor; this species perched up and looked back at us before flying off.

Not all herons will be found in wetlands! For example, this young Bare-throated Tiger-Heron appeared above us in Coto 47! Awesome looks were had by all. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – We enjoyed watching the swirling flocks of these raptors once we arrived at Wilson Botanical Gardens. They would end up being quite common in the area.
ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus ornatus) – We were finishing up birding the road between Golfito and La Gamba when this awesome raptor was spotted. It eventually took flight and soared overhead. Outstanding!
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – This stylish raptor was spotted twice on tour: first overhead at Los Cusingos and again at the Rio Rincón bridge.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – This attractive raptor of open country put on a great show when it flew overhead south of Ciudad Neily. This is still a very range-restricted species in Costa Rica.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – Common and widespread through much of our tour.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – It wasn't until our drive back north on our final day that we entered the range of this species. Along the way, we spotted one perched on some power lines but it was a quick view.
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – Some excellent spotting along the road between La Gamba and Golfito led us to this sneaky raptor perched in the canopy. This species was considered conspecific with the previous species until recently when it was split. Costa Rica is the only country that hosts both species.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – This wintering raptor species was fairly common during our time around Talari and Wilson Botanical Gardens.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – A couple of these compact Buteos were seen soaring overhead south of Ciudad Neily in the Pacific lowlands. We had other sightings around Talari and Wilson as well.
RED-TAILED HAWK (COSTARICENSIS) (Buteo jamaicensis costaricensis) – Note the subspecies; this is a non-migratory subspecies of this familiar raptor that is found mostly in the highlands of Costa Rica. We encountered one high in the paramo on our 2nd day.
Strigidae (Owls)
TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – We saw this screech-owl posing quite nicely at Talari Mountain Lodge one evening thanks to Vernon's intimate knowledge of their locations and habits.

One plus side of the Green Herons we saw at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge was that they stayed dead still! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – This little guy was heard by a few in the gardens at the Hotel Bougainvillea on Day 1. Unfortunately, that was our only encounter of this dry-country species. [*]
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – Although the weather conditions conspired against us at Wilson Botanical Gardens, most of us ended up hearing at least one. [*]
Trogonidae (Trogons)
SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena) – This lowland species of trogon was seen a couple of times between Esquinas and the Golfito Road. This is a red-bellied trogon with an all-dark tail.
BAIRD'S TROGON (Trogon bairdii) – Found only in southwestern Costa Rica and a little bit of neighboring Panama, this is a main target of ours and a very colorful specialty. We encountered them a couple of times, including along the Golfito Road and again at the Rio Rincón bridge. Success!
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – This yellow-bellied trogon was fairly common at mid-low elevations and we encountered them at Wilson Botanical Gardens, including a pair that was visiting a hole in an ant/wasp nest high in a tree!
BLACK-THROATED TROGON (Trogon rufus) – It wasn't until our final morning at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge that we tracked down this lowland, yellow-bellied trogon along the trails. This species ranges south to central South America.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – A fairly widespread trogon in Costa Rica. For us, we encountered them mostly around Wilson Botanical Gardens along the trails.
Momotidae (Motmots)
LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii) – This fascinating, bright, and fun tropical species was common and widespread for us. At times, they'd even come in and eat fruit off the feeders. Any day with a motmot is a good day!
TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT (Eumomota superciliosa) – Although we were stuck in traffic on our drive back to San Jose for some time, it did mean we got to see this gorgeous species perched right next to the highway!
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – It seemed almost out of place but this giant kingfisher flew in over the small pond at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge! We saw another at the Rio Rincón bridge.

Any day with a motmot is a good day! Thankfully, that meant we had a lot of good days because the Lesson's Motmots were fairly common. What a stunning bird! Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – Our most common kingfisher on the tour; these big green guys were seen along the river at Talari as well as various streams and rivers throughout.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-WHISKERED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila panamensis) – Although we heard this sneaky species at Los Cusingos, it wasn't until the Golfito Road that we actually laid eyes on a couple.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Our best views came from the driveway at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge one morning. This long-billed species specializes in eating large insect prey like butterflies, dragonflies, and cicadas.
Capitonidae (New World Barbets)
RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii) – A beautiful inhabitant of cloud forests in Costa Rica. One came to the feeders at Bosque Del Tolomuco during our visit but that was our only sighting.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
FIERY-BILLED ARACARI (Pteroglossus frantzii) – This specialty is restricted to southern Costa Rica and neighboring Panama. We eventually had great success with these small toucans with several looks at small roving flocks along roadsides and, later on, coming to feed at fruit right next to us! This species is always a hit and for good reason.
YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – A common and widespread species for us at mid-low elevations sites like Talari Mountain Lodge and Wilson Botanical Gardens.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus) – Our only glimpse of this tiny woodpecker came from Los Cusingos where it appeared to be nesting. [N]
GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysauchen) – With a very restricted range of southern Costa Rica and neighboring Panama, this fancy woodpecker is a bit of a specialty. We had beautiful looks at Esquinas and even better looks along the Golfito Road!
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – Common and widespread for us through much of tour.
HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii) – This species is found in the northern parts of the country and also down into the Central Valley. We encountered them by the Hotel Bougainvillea.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (COSTA RICAN) (Dryobates villosus extimus) – One of these highland woodpeckers (note the subspecies) was seen at Paraiso Quetzal by a few folks during our short time at that elevation.

We enjoyed no fewer than five different species of trogons, a colorful tropical family. This Collared Trogon sat nicely along the trails at Wilson Botanical Garden. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Dryobates fumigatus) – We were hiking the trails at Wilson Botanical Gardens when we heard this species. However, it never came into view for us. [*]
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – We heard the loud double-taps from this species on the trails at Wilson but it stayed out of view for us. [*]
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – This big woodpecker was fairly common once we dropped into the Pacific lowlands towards the end of the trip. This species might remind you of the Pileated Woodpecker from farther north.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – Our only luck with this species came overhead at the Wilson Botanical Gardens at the beginning of our hike down the trail.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – This distinctive raptor was fairly common and tallied on the majority of our days.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – Although less common than the previous species, this distinctly-marked caracara was seen several times including good numbers at the Rio Rincón bridge.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – This noisy raptor was heard several times and then glimpsed in a roadside tree in Coto 47 near the Las Pangas area.

One of the stars of the show was the range-restricted Fiery-billed Aracari, a small but colorful toucan that we enjoyed around Talari Mountain Lodge, Los Cusingos, and Wilson Botanical Gardens. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
BARRED PARAKEET (Bolborhynchus lineola) – A very distant flock of these twisted and turned high overhead at our roadside birding location near Paraiso Quetzal on our 2nd day.
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – These small, fast parakeets were seen a few times at spots like Talari Mountain Lodge, Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, and the Rio Rincón bridge. The orange chin is, in fact, very difficult to see in the field!
BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis) – Right around the lodge at Wilson Botanical Garden was a good spot for this parrot and we got some in the scope on a couple of our mornings there.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – Like the previous species, we were able to scope this parrot during a morning session at Wilson Botanical Gardens right from the patio.
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – Quite a number of these would come in and land in the tree right off the balcony at Talari during our morning birding there.
RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis) – This was the common parrot overhead at the Rio Rincón bridge during our dawn birding.
YELLOW-NAPED PARROT (Amazona auropalliata) – A couple of these were spotted in flight near the Hotel Bougainvillea but that was our only encounter.
MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa) – Just one or two of these were spotted flying with the previous species at the Rio Rincón bridge.
BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (VERAGUAS) (Eupsittula pertinax ocularis) – Within Costa Rica, this is a very range-restricted species that has expanded northward from Panama. We saw ours in the Las Pangas region of Coto 47.
SCARLET MACAW (Ara macao) – The sight of these jaw-dropping macaws in flight at the Rio Rincón bridge, with morning light, isn't a memory to forget! Gorgeous.
CRIMSON-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara finschi) – Pretty common throughout the trip and especially around the Hotel Bougainvillea.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major) – This sneaky devil was very vocal at the bridge south of Ciudad Neily but it never showed itself! [*]
BLACK-HOODED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bridgesi) – For being as sneaky as they were, this big-billed antshrike was actually pretty common. We had glimpses at Los Cusingos, Wilson Botanical Gardens, Esquinas, Golfito, etc.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – A pair or two performed beautifully on the trail down to the river at Wilson Botanical Gardens.
CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Poliocrania exsul) – Like the Black-hooded Antshrike, these were actually fairly common but always difficult to see well. Los Cusingos hosted several and we encountered more around Esquinas and the road to Golfito.
BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys bicolor bicolor) – This antbird was singing at Los Cusingos but never came into view. [*]
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
SILVERY-FRONTED TAPACULO (Scytalopus argentifrons) – Darn it, this secretive species sang a couple of times during our time in the highlands but it was always way up the mountain and out of reach. [*]

Of all the woodpeckers we saw, we spent more time with the Red-crowned than any of the others. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – It took quite a bit of patience but some folks were eventually rewarded with views of this secretive species as it walked through the forest between Golfito and La Gamba.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina) – A woodcreeper at Los Cusingos flew in and landed close for quick looks. Turns out, it was a youngster of this species.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – Perhaps our best views of this tiny-billed species came on our morning walk at Esquinas on our final day.
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – A couple of these huge woodcreepers landed nice and close for good looks as we birded between Golfito and La Gamba.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Relative to the size of the body, this species has a pretty impressive, sturdy bill! We had quick glimpses along the Golfito Road.
BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus) – Among the woodcreepers, this is a gorgeously-patterned member that ranges south to Ecuador, often in lowland habitats.
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – Perhaps our most common woodcreeper on tour, this curve-billed species was seen on a majority of our days.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – A tiny woodcreeper with a bold white moustacial stripe, these were seen at spots like Wilson, Golfito Road, and Esquinas on our final morning walk.
CHIRIQUI FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Automolus exsertus) – This is a newly split species from the Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner complex. We ended up with looks a couple of times including from the trail at Wilson Botanical Gardens and Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. The bold, pale throat really stood out!
STRIPED WOODHAUNTER (Automolus subulatus) – This is a fascinating member of this family. We encountered a rather tame one along the road between Golfito and La Gamba.
RUDDY TREERUNNER (Margarornis rubiginosus) – This bright rufous species is found only in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. We encountered a couple of these mixed in with a roadside flock near Paraiso Quetzal on our second day.
RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops) – Our only views of these arboreal woodcreepers on Part 1 came from the Wilson Botanical Gardens.
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) – This grass-loving spinetail was seen very nicely in the fields near the Esquinas entrance.
Pipridae (Manakins)
WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera) – Both Talari and Wilson Botanical Gardens hosted this mostly-black manakin. Being way up in the treetops made it hard to see at times.

Deep in the forests skulked this species, the Chestnut-backed Antbird. From time to time, we had lucky encounters where we actually caught a glimpse or two! This particular bird had even been captured by researchers, as indicated by the color band. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BLUE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Lepidothrix coronata) – This is another mostly-black manakin but one that sports a brilliant blue crest. We encountered these just a few times including at Los Cusingos and Wilson Botanical Gardens where one was in a treetop alongside the previous species.
ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus aurantiacus) – Although we got to hear them a lot, these sure did give us a lot of trouble! Then, on the final morning at Esquinas, we had crippling looks of them displaying up the side trail.
RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis) – Our first encounter came from Los Cusingos but we had another glimpse or two from Golfito and the Rio Rincón bridge area.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
TURQUOISE COTINGA (Cotinga ridgwayi) – Wow, what a stunner! We visited a special spot in San Isidro and found a brilliant male perched high up in a tree. We got the scopes on it and we had great walk-away views. Later on, at the Rio Rincón bridge, we saw females a couple of times.
RUFOUS PIHA (Lipaugus unirufus) – Easy to hear but hard to see! We got a glimpse at Los Cusingos and heard another at the Rio Rincón bridge.
YELLOW-BILLED COTINGA (Carpodectes antoniae) – This endangered species is very range restricted and sought-after by birders. They're found in coastal areas of southwestern Costa Rica and a little bit of Panama but are close to extirpation there. With a population of fewer than 700 left, seeing this species is a real treat. Our time at the Rio Rincón bridge was successful and we saw several males and females.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – A couple were scoped at the Rio Rincón bridge but that was our only encounter of the trip.
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor) – It was on our first full day, when we were up in the highlands, that a couple of these came down and performed so well for us near Paraiso Quetzal.
WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus) – We worked to see one of these high overhead along the driveway at Talari Mountain Lodge on our final morning.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – Great looks were had by all of a couple birds near the bridge south of Ciudad Neily. Remember, the males in Costa Rica don't actually have rose throats!

Of the many woodcreepers we tallied on Part 1, surely the best named was this Striped Woodhaunter! This particular one haunted the woods along the road to Golfito one morning. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus) – Our best look came from the trails down the hill at Wilson Botanical Garden. It performed quite nicely though, perching low right along the trail.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus coronatus) – Although they're tiny and sometimes hard to see well, I think most of us got a glimpse of this minute flycatcher in the forest at Los Cusingos.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus) – One of these wing-flicking flycatchers was spotted along the entrance to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus) – This is another tiny flycatcher, as the name implies, that we spotted at Wilson Botanical Garden down along the trail. This species can be found in foothills down to southern Peru.
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – Our final morning at Esquinas, along one of the trails, this drab flycatcher was calling. However, it remained out of sight. [*]
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – With a dark back and bright yellow below, this fairly common species was seen several times towards the end of the tour, especially at Esquinas.
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – The first couple seemed to give us the slip but we eventually caught up to one or two good ones at Esquinas including one on our final morning along the trails.
YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Ornithion semiflavum) – This tiny, canopy-loving flycatcher can be a really tough bird to find and see. Add to that a very restricted range (southern Mexico south to Costa Rica). We eventually had success by the pool at Esquinas one morning.
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – We tallied this nondescript species in the mangroves near the Rio Rincón bridge.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – This widespread elaenia was heard a ton and also seen several times. Generally speaking, this is one of the easiest elaenias to find and see. They have an enormous, bushy crest!

This newly-split Chiriqui Foliage-gleaner was a main target for us and we had a couple of encounters including at Wilson Botanical Gardens and near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Until recently, this was considered part of the Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner complex. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Our only encounter on Part 1 was on our first full day in the highlands near Paraiso Quetzal.
MISTLETOE TYRANNULET (Zimmerius parvus) – Formerly part of the Paltry Tyrannulet complex before they were split out. This Zimmerius is actually quite widespread and common in much of Costa Rica and we tallied them most days.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – This migrant species from the north winters in Costa Rica. However, we encountered one just once, a heard bird near the tower at Wilson. [*]
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens) – One of these subtle flycatchers was mixed in with a flock near Esquinas but we moved on pretty quickly to colorful tanagers!
BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax atriceps) – Our time in the highlands overlapped with a couple of these fairly distinctive Empids. With a range limited to mountains of Costa Rica and Panama, it was a great specialty to see.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – This water-loving flycatcher was seen nicely at Talari down along the river.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – This is a mean-looking flycatcher. The trouble is, they're very hard to see sometimes (but easy to hear). We heard them several times at Wilson Botanical Gardens. [*]
RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra) – There was a singing bird at Esquinas our final morning that eventually flew over by the pool. However, that remained our only sighting of this all-rufous, canopy-loving bird.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – We had just one encounter with one of these Myiarchus flycatchers along the entrance road to Esquinas.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – This large, bright Myiarchus might be a familiar species for birders from farther north. They winter in lowlands and we found them at spots like the Golfito Road and the Rio Rincón bridge.

Although they didn't come out of the shadows often, the Gray-cowled Wood-Rails were always of interest when they did. This species used to be part of the Gray-necked Wood-Rail complex before it was split. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common, bold, widespread, and tallied daily.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – Although far less common than the previous species, this is another large and bold flycatcher. We encountered them mostly in the mid-low elevations like Talari and around Esquinas.
RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis) – Although this black, yellow, and white flycatcher is quite widespread in South America, it is a very range-restricted specialty in southern Costa Rica. We found the reliable birds near Esquinas during a walk there.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Common and widespread, tallied daily.
GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis) – Similar to the previous species, this pale-eyed, gray-headed flycatcher became more common once we dropped into the lowlands around Ciudad Neily and Esquinas.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Our best looks came from Talari Mountain Lodge where one was perched high in a treetop, and then again down at the Rio Rincón bridge.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – This small, widespread flycatcher was only seen once, from the Rio Rincón bridge.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Abundant, tallied daily.
FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savana) – Although never abundant, these gorgeous and distinctive flycatchers were seen around Ciudad Neily, Coto 47, and near Golfito.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – A tough bird to see but an easy one to hear! A couple folks got killer looks at one out in the open along a side-road near Wilson Botanical Garden. Otherwise, most of ours were heard only.

Seeing Orange-collared Manakin turned out to be a pretty tough goal through much of the trip! Then, on our final morning, we hit paydirt and had a fantastic show at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes) – Great looks were had near the bridge south of Ciudad Neily. Greenlets are in the Vireo family.
GREEN SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius pulchellus) – Ugg, it took ages, and a lot of sore necks, to finally find this treetop songster at Los Cusingos!
TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET (Tunchiornis ochraceiceps) – This is an easily overlooked species that ranges from Mexico south well into South America. For us, we had great looks along the road to Golfito but it never seemed to sit still for very long.
LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata) – This is a very plain member of the Vireo family. Still, we had good looks on several days, often in mixed flocks.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – Our only encounter with this migrant from farther north was near the river at Talari Mountain Lodge.
PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus) – This is another migrant from the north that opts to winter in Costa Rica. We had a couple views at Talari.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – A large, noisy, and conspicuous jay seen around San Jose and Talari Mountain Lodge.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – Our most widespread and commonly seen swallow on tour. Mostly white below, the black vent really stood out in contrast.

The endemic Mangrove Hummingbird sure chooses a nice place to hang out! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Tallied only once, this migrant was seen near Golfito towards the end of our tour.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – This big swallow is a close relative of the Purple Martin folks might know from back home in the States. For us, they were quite common once we dropped into the mid-low elevations towards the end of the tour.
MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – Seen a couple times but our best views came from the Rio Rincón bridge where they'd land on the power lines right next to us.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – There was only one brief sighting of this migrant swallow from the Rio Rincón area.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – This was one of the first birds we keyed in on at Los Cusingos during our visit. This species is known for its propensity of foraging in thick vine tangles.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea) – Rather similar to gnatcatchers birders might know from elsewhere in the Americas, this tiny, tail-wagging species was first seen nicely at Talari Mountain Lodge.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – This fairly plain, brown wren was common through much of the trip although their quiet behavior didn't make them very obvious.
OCHRACEOUS WREN (Troglodytes ochraceus) – A high-elevation specialty endemic to Costa Rica and Panama, this buffy species was spotted on our first full day near Paraiso Quetzal.
TIMBERLINE WREN (Thryorchilus browni) – A true specialty of the high elevations of Costa Rica and Panama, this wren lives mostly in bamboo thickets at elevations between 2200-3600 meters. We saw bits and pieces here and there until finally, one came out for most people.
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) – This big and colorful wren, one that's fond of dry-country, was seen near the Hotel Bougainvillea at the start of the tour.
BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) – A great songster, but a sneaky bird to get a glimpse of. There was a pair working near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge that some folks eventually saw on our final morning.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – Our best luck with this mid-elevation species came from Talari Mountain Lodge where a couple of these were seen working through some vine clusters, as they're fond of doing.
CABANIS'S WREN (Cantorchilus modestus) – Down across the road from the Hotel Bougainvillea is a good spot for this species and we had decent luck there with this songster. Up until several years ago, this was part of the Plain Wren complex that was eventually split 3 ways.
ISTHMIAN WREN (Cantorchilus elutus) – This, too, was part of the former Plain Wren complex. Now found only in southern Costa Rica and Panama, it's a bit of a specialty. We had good looks near Ciudad Neily in the steamy lowlands.
RIVERSIDE WREN (Cantorchilus semibadius) – This is a rather attractive wren that's also limited to southern Costa Rica and Panama. We had encounters at Talari Mountain Lodge, Los Cusingos, and the Esquinas area.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys) – This is a high-elevation wren that we heard a couple of times including at Bosque Del Tolomuco. [*]

Of all the Catharus thrushes, the Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush has the most-restricted range. This specialty is only found at high elevations in Costa Rica and Panama. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Fairly common, this mimic was seen near San Vito, Ciudad Neily, and Golfito.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BLACK-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus gracilirostris) – A subtle but attractive thrush found at high elevations of Costa Rica and Panama. We encountered one on our first full day near Paraiso Quetzal but that was our only sighting.
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – A gifted songster, this sneaky thrush was hard to see but we eventually had success. It was tallied from Talari, Bosque Del Tolomuco, and near Wilson Botanical Garden.
MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus) – We managed only a brief sighting or two from the balcony of Paraiso Quetzal of this high-elevation replacement of the Clay-colored Thrush.
WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus assimilis) – We got to hear this thrush calling a few times as we started down the trail at Wilson but it remained out of view. [*]
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – This widespread thrush is the national bird of Costa Rica.
SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens) – Just a few folks saw this large, dark thrush from Paraiso Quetzal but we left its range when we went down in elevation after that.
Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha) – This interesting species is restricted to the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. For us, we encountered a pair at the first side-road we birded at high up near Paraiso Quetzal.
LONG-TAILED SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys caudatus) – This is the other member of the silky-flycatcher family found in Costa Rica and, like the previous species, it's also endemic to Costa Rica and Panama. We had killer views right next to the balcony at Paraiso Quetzal! What a gorgeous bird.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Seen occasionally in urban areas. [I]

This is a Costa Rican Brushfinch, a very range-restricted specialty we finally tracked down near San Vito. Nearly endemic to Costa Rica, this was one of our main targets and Vernon's magic did the trick! Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla) – This was the euphonia we saw at the feeders at Talari Mountain Lodge and occasionally on the grounds there. However, those were our only sightings.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – This yellow-throated member of the Euphonia genus was one of two species at the Wilson Botanical Garden fruit feeders.
SPOT-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia imitans) – These were fairly common once we birded at Los Cusingos and especially around Wilson Botanical Gardens. The females are very nicely marked and obvious!
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – This small finch was seen just a few times around the gardens at Wilson.
Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus) – Of the two chlorospingus we see on this tour, this is the high-elevation member. We saw this on our first full day up at elevation near Paraiso Quetzal.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus) – Typically found farther downhill and at lower elevations compared to the previous species, these were seen Bosque Del Tolomuco.
BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris) – Fairly common in the humid lowlands around Ciudad Neily and Esquinas.
COSTA RICAN BRUSHFINCH (Arremon costaricensis) – Success! This is a rare, range-restricted brushfinch that's very nearly endemic to Costa Rica. We eventually found a pair along a road near San Vito but they had us sweating for a bit!
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) – We had our best luck with this shadow-loving sparrow near the compost pile at Talari Mountain Lodge. This species is found from southern Mexico south into Peru.
VOLCANO JUNCO (Junco vulcani) – This junco is a very range-restricted specialty of the high-elevation mountaintops in Costa Rica and Panama. We found a couple in the wind high up at Cerro de la Muerte on our first full day.

Certainly one of the most range-restricted species we encountered on the entire trip was this Volcano Junco. Found only on the tops of a few mountains in Costa Rica and Panama, this was a great specialty to track down on our first day. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – A common bird at mid-upper elevations; we saw our first right at the Hotel Bougainvillea.
LARGE-FOOTED FINCH (Pezopetes capitalis) – Typically a difficult bird to see, this ground-dweller has gotten used to a couple of feeders at the La Georgina Restaurant and we had good looks from the windowed overlook.
CABANIS'S GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone cabanisi) – Woohoo! Endemic to a small area in central Costa Rica, this ground-sparrow is a sought-after specialty. Our exploration near the Hotel Bougainvillea provided us with great looks at this stunner. [E]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – A few of these grass-lovers were seen in the weedy fields south of Ciudad Neily.
RED-BREASTED MEADOWLARK (Leistes militaris) – How cool was it to see meadowlarks with bright red fronts! This species was tallied near Ciudad Neily in the tropical lowlands.
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – Only one of these flew past us while we were birding near San Vito/Wilson Botanical Garden. Turns out, that was our only sighting.
MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma) – Absent from most of our tour but a couple were seen on our drive back towards San Jose on our final day.
SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (SCARLET-RUMPED) (Cacicus uropygialis microrhynchus) – Initially heard once or twice from the parking area at Esquinas, a couple were eventually seen at the Rio Rincón bridge up in a tree with cowbirds.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius) – One or two of these migrants were seen along the road south of Ciudad Neily. One was a nice male showing that burnt orange and black patterning.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – Fairly common throughout the trip.

When one hears the words "Costa Rica", the mind might automatically think of the generous selection of gaudy tanagers that can be seen there. Our Part 1 tour was no exception and we amassed an impressive diversity. Included was this Speckled Tanager, photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – This glossy black cowbird was seen a couple of times including at Ciudad Neily and the Rio Rincón bridge.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – These cowbirds have a glaring red eye which gives them a distinctive, sinister look. We saw them south of Ciudad Neily and a huge flock at the Rio Rincón bridge.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – At least one was perched with the cowbird flock at the Rio Rincón bridge and we all managed a scope view, noting the huge size.
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – Common around the Hotel Bougainvillea.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Abundant, tallied daily.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Although we heard them fairly often, it wasn't until the Rio Rincón bridge that some folks caught a glimpse of this wintering migrant.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – Not uncommon in various mixed flocks throughout the trip.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – This limb-creeping warbler was fairly common and we tallied them on at least half of our days.
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – Nice looks were had of this beautiful, bright yellow warbler at the Rio Rincón mangroves.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) – It was interesting to see this wintering warbler visiting fruit feeders here and there on tour!

Of all the tanagers we enjoyed, perhaps the most common was the Scarlet-rumped Tanager. This species, now re-lumped, has an incredible deep black plumage on the males. Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – Deep in the forests at Wilson Botanical Gardens, we tracked one of these wintering warblers as it slowly walked through the undergrowth.
OLIVE-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (CHIRIQUI) (Geothlypis semiflava chiriquensis) – Some sources split this out as its own species "Chiriqui Yellowthroat". For now, we treat this as a subspecies of Olive-crowned (until recently, it was part of Masked Yellowthroat; a confusing situation!). We had looks in a weedy field near San Vito.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – This wintering warbler was seen early on near Talari Mountain Lodge.
CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina) – This was a great surprise! This rare warbler showed up at Bosque Del Tolomuco and foraged in a treetop a couple of times. This is not a species we ever expect to see on this tour.
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Although they tended to stay high in trees, we had a couple looks at these bright yellow-fronted warblers from the Wilson Botanical Gardens.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – Maybe our best look at this wintering species was at the Casa Botania B&B near San Vito.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – This familiar wintering warbler was seen just a couple of times and was never common.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – Our most common warbler on the trip, these cute little guys were tallied nearly every day.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – This was another uncommon wintering warbler that we tallied only on one day near Los Cusingos.
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – Seen a few times at spots like Casa Botania B&B and the side-road we birded at near Wilson Botanical Gardens.

Wherever we saw fruit feeders, we also saw the Silver-throated Tanager, a colorful and common species we enjoyed lots of good looks at. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) – These friendly warblers were often seen on the ground, especially along the edges of roads or trails where they preferred to forage.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – Seen a couple of times in the highlands.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Only a couple of these tropical warblers were tallied from the Wilson Botanical Gardens.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – Common throughout much of the tour, especially around Talari and Wilson.
FLAME-COLORED TANAGER (Piranga bidentata) – This bright tanager showed up at the feeders at Bosque Del Tolomuco which really brightened up the scene!
RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER (Habia rubica) – Although the males are a dull red in color, it was always hard to appreciate that, given that they preferred to be in the shadows. The best spot was at Talari Mountain Lodge when they'd come to the compost.
BLACK-CHEEKED ANT-TANAGER (Habia atrimaxillaris) – Success! This is surely one of the main targets of the entire Edges Part 1 tour! This rare ant-tanager is endemic to the southwestern corner of Costa Rica where it's believed fewer than 15,000 remain. We caught up to them a couple of times including right on the grounds of Esquinas and then again along the road to Golfito. [E]
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – Our first views of this wintering species came in the clouds at Bosque Del Tolomuco.
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanoloxia cyanoides) – In poor light, this species looks effectively all black! We turned up a couple at Esquinas towards the end of our tour.

Surely one of the main targets for birding in southern Costa Rica is the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, a rare species that's only found in Costa Rica. Lucky for us, we stayed at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge which sits firmly in their range. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – These true tanagers showed up a couple of times including at Talari Mountain Lodge where they inspected the compost pile.
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus) – Los Cusingos provided us with the best looks at this mostly-black tanager.
SCARLET-RUMPED TANAGER (CHERRIE'S) (Ramphocelus passerinii costaricensis) – An abundant but gorgeous addition to the avifauna of Costa Rica. Until recently, these were split out as different species but they've been re-lumped as Scarlet-rumped again.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Our most common tanager on average. Tallied daily.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Although a bit more bland than the previous species, this species does have a fine, yellow tinge to the head. These were fairly common throughout.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Ixothraupis guttata) – What a gorgeous tanager! These visited fruit at feeders at spots like Talari and Wilson; we found some "wild" ones as well as we birded various trails.
GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Stilpnia larvata) – This is another one of the common but eye-opening tanagers we enjoyed on our tour. These were especially common at middle elevations such as around Talari and Wilson.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – The combinations of colors put together on this species is pretty amazing! We had views at Los Cusingos, Talari, and Wilson Botanical Gardens.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala) – This was an abundant tanager at mid-upper elevations at spots like Bosque Del Tolomuco.
SCARLET-THIGHED DACNIS (Dacnis venusta) – It didn't stick around for long but one of these was seen briefly along the road between Golfito and La Gamba.

The Green Honeycreeper is also in the tanager family. We saw gobs of these colorful gems at our mid-elevation stops. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – This is a really attractive little tanager! We caught glimpses at Esquinas a couple of times.
SHINING HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes lucidus) – This honeycreeper, which we saw at Esquinas, has bright yellow legs.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – Not as common on Part 1. We had views at places such as Talari Mountain Lodge and the Rio Rincón area.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – Our most common honeycreeper on Part 1, this attractive tropical species was quite fond of visiting fruit feeders throughout the tour.
SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea) – This is a high-elevation specialist only found in Costa Rica and Panama. Lucky for us, we found some during our day at high elevation near the radio towers.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – These glossy little guys were fairly common in the grassy areas around San Vito, Ciudad Neily, and Coto 47.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea) – A lone female perched up along the entrance to Esquinas and we were able to put her in the scopes. This big-billed species ranges from Mexico to Ecuador.
VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina) – Abundant in any grassy habitat through much of the tour.
MORELET'S SEEDEATER (Sporophila morelleti) – Much less numerous than the previous species on Part 1, this attractive little tanager showed up along the road south of Ciudad Neily.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Common just about anywhere with flowers!

Of course, there's lots to see in Costa Rica even outside of the birds. For example, it was a blast seeing the White-throated Capuchins! Photo by participants David and Judy Smith.

YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – Not very common on this tour actually. Maybe our best look came from Casa Botania B&B near San Vito.
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – Our most common saltator on this tour, this big-billed species was a mainstay at fruit feeders throughout.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Our only encounter with this wide-ranging saltator was one at the Hotel Bougainvillea where it was eating flower petals!
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – The best looks of this more subtle saltator came from Wilson Botanical Gardens where they'd visit the bananas.

GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata) – If you ever needed to see one of these, you only needed to look by the fridge at Esquinas which is where they'd roost every day!
COMMON TENT-MAKING BAT (Uroderma bilobatum) – Vernon showed us this fascinating species in a "tent" they had made of some fronds at Esquinas. Very cool!
WHITE-THROATED CAPUCHIN (Cebus capucinus) – A couple of these moved through the gardens at Los Cusingos which was fun to watch!
VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides) – One of two squirrel species we saw, these are less uniform in color and often have gray and black coloration.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – Our most common squirrel, these were widespread and seen nearly every day.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – This big rodent was quite common at spots like Wilson Botanical Gardens and Esquinas.

This Common Tent-making Bat was a fascinating addition to our list. Local guide Vernon knew right where to look at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge! Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – This interesting mammal is a relative of the raccoon that so many of us know from farther north.
KINKAJOU (Potos flavus) – Seeing these nocturnal mammals was a real highlight during our time at Talari Mountain Lodge. They didn't seem to mind us too much as we watched them feed from the dining-hall balcony.
GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) – There was no shortage of these big guys once we dropped down into the Pacific lowlands!
COMMON BASILISK (Basiliscus basiliscus) – Our best views came from Esquinas Rainforest Lodge where these were quite common near the ponds.
TROPICAL HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mabouia) – The sound these geckos make blends right in with the normal night sounds and we heard them daily.
AMERICAN CROCODILE (Crocodylus acutus) – As we drove north on our final day, we caught a glimpse of one or two of these near the Rio Tarcoles.
SPECTACLED CAIMAN (Caiman crocodilus) – A couple of these always seemed to be lurking somewhere in the ponds at Esquinas! At night, the eye-shine was especially helpful in picking them out.
CANE TOAD (Rhinella marina) – Yikes, these guys are huge! We saw them on the grounds at Talari Mountain Lodge.


Totals for the tour: 317 bird taxa and 8 mammal taxa